June 30, 2017
At the June 27 City Council Meeting, Council voted unanimously to support moving forward on the “temporary” multipurpose sports field in place of the surface parking lot on the Civic Center site and to move forward with the Request for Proposals (RFP) seeking a development team to reimagine, renovate and operate the Civic Auditorium. The motion included a parking study intended to plan for the loss of parking resulting from the addition of the field and an effort to work with current users of the parking, including the Courthouse, and possibly the Coastal Commission to develop alternatives to provide replacement parking as needed. Moving forward with plans for additional field space at Memorial Park was also included.
We are delighted to see the commitment to issue an RFP for the Civic Auditorium reconfirmed. However, the one concern that was not resolved was the softball field overlay proposed in the staff report, pending additional conversations with the school district.
The request to add a softball field overlay to the “temporary” multipurpose sports field at the Civic causes great concern because of its impacts on the landmark Civic Auditorium, which is still without a plan for rehabilitation more than a year after the Civic Working Group made its report to Council. The multipurpose sports field as defined in the 2005 Civic Center specific plan was intended for sports like soccer that are played on rectangular fields. The softball overlay will add 25% to the area required for the sports fields, moving the boundaries of the field very close to the Auditorium, and includes fencing and containment netting 26 feet high, as well as chain-link protected dugouts and bullpens. The visual impact of such a field on the Landmark structure seems totally inappropriate, and it would place additional limitations on the space available for shared use by a revitalized Civic Auditorium.
It seemed clear that all council members saw the placement of the softball addition to the temporary field at the civic, even temporarily, as a negative impact, but they supported further conversations with the district regarding the need and district funding of the additional expense. The Conservancy will remain concerned about the potential negative impact on the future of the Civic Auditorium until a different site is found for the softball field.